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Nearly half of suicide-related calls from under-30 age group – Research

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Professional bodies mark suicide prevention day with media education

The Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) has said over 40 per cent of total calls it had received since its inception in 2017, came from people under age 30. Its coordinator, Raphael Ogbolu, disclosed this during a virtual news conference on Wednesday night in Lagos. The briefing was in commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention Day, marked today, September 10.

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Ogbolu, also a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, said that young people were quite prone to contemplate suicide based on the data provided, hence, the need to start engaging them at a very young age, preferably before they are 10.

According to him, the organisation has decided in its 2021 conference, holding September 11, to focus on the youth, to create awareness among them, so that they are mentally aware and become part of the conversation.

ALSO, some not for profit organisations, media professional bodies, broadcast stations, and marketing communications firms, including Suicide Is No Solution (SINS), Asido Foundation, Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), Lagos Online Media Publishers Association (LASOMP), Spirit of Nigeria Radio, Life Radio, Jordan FM, Tall and Wide Company and Strycaz Consulting will hold a special webinar to commemorate the 2021 World Suicide Prevention Day today.

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This was disclosed in a statement by Toye Arulogun, Project Director of Suicide Is No Solution, the coordinating arm of the initiative. The statement revealed that the webinar with the theme: Suicide Reporting: The Social Responsibility Imperative, holding virtually at 6:00 p.m. will seek to enlighten Nigerian media practitioners and the nation’s media space at large to the best practices of reporting this public mental issue.

According to Arulogun, “with Nigeria’s increasing an alarming rate of deaths by suicide, ranked the highest in West Africa, fifth in Africa and 15th in the world according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), responsible media reportage of suicide incidents has become imperative.

This is because studies have shown that communication plays a very important role in societal behavioural patterns and trends while media reportage on mental health and suicide cases influence behaviour negatively by contributing to contagion, or positively by encouraging help-seeking.”

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Speakers at the webinar are Prof. Moses Audu, consultant psychiatrist, Jos University Teaching Hospital; Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, consultant psychiatrist and founder, ASIDO Foundation; Mrs Jadesola Ajibola, chairperson, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ); Mr Folajaiye Kareem, clinical psychologist and Director of Interventions, ASIDO Foundation; and Mr Lateef Owodunni, publisher, Gist Island News and Treasurer, Lagos Online Media Publishers Association.

The webinar is expected to redirect narratives on suicide reporting in the Nigerian media space with a view to establishing a new regime of responsible suicide reporting devoid of sensationalism, depiction or description of suicide methods, or sharing the content of suicide notes.

Mr Odita Sunday, President, Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria,

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“The 2021 national conference with the theme: ‘The Youth: Connecting and Strengthening Future Mental Wellbeing’, keeps focusing on young people.

“Also, the highlight of the conference, will be the finale of a national secondary schools’ debate where five finalist schools will debate the topic: ‘Can the mental health bill reduce suicide among young Nigerians?’.

“The five finalists’ debate entries will be played live on the day of the conference and based on scores from a panel of judges and online votes, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places will be awarded prize monies N250,000, N150,000, and N100,000, respectively,” he said.

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Mr Ogbolu said that identifying key experts was one of the main ways of addressing suicide, the reason being that there was a need for gatekeepers.

He said that gatekeepers were essential people in communities, who would serve as the “eyes” by identifying someone in the locality who might be suicidal.

“Keyways we thought of addressing suicide and still think is the way, is to engage religious leaders: religious leaders, because they are usually close to their communities.

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